• OFCCP Suspends Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters Program
  • November 19, 2009 | Author: Gary A. Chamberlin
  • Law Firm: Miller Johnson - Grand Rapids Office
  • The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has confirmed that it is suspending its practice of sending out Corporate Scheduling Announcement Letters (CSAL) that have provided advance notice to many federal government contractors/subcontractors about upcoming compliance reviews.

    The OFCCP is the agency that enforces nondiscrimination and affirmative action obligations against employers who do business with the federal government. Its standard enforcement mechanism is a compliance review audit which, on average, is a several-year process that subjects a federal contractor/subcontractor to an in-depth investigation of hiring, promotion, termination, and other employment decisions. OFCCP predominantly seeks evidence of systemic discrimination against women, minorities, veterans, and disabled applicants and/or employees. Entry-level hiring is given extensive scrutiny by OFCCP.

    In mid-2004, and with great fanfare, the OFCCP began a practice of giving contractors a “heads-up” of impending compliance reviews in advance of sending out a formal Notice of Desk Audit. Twice during each federal fiscal year (October 1 and April 1), the OFCCP sent out letters to all contractors with which OFCCP intended to schedule two or more compliance reviews. (Employers with a single establishment targeted for audit were not similarly notified in advance.) The actual onset of an OFCCP audit could occur any time during the fiscal year. The stated purpose of these CSAL notices was to give federal contractors/ subcontractors an opportunity to conduct self-audits and voluntarily remedy any disparate or noncompliant employment practices prior to a “full-blown” compliance review by OFCCP.

    The sun has now apparently set on what was heralded in 2004 as “a new day at OFCCP.” The OFCCP has now confirmed that no CSAL letters have been sent out for fiscal year 2010 (beginning October 1, 2009). In fact, the national office has acknowledged that the practice of sending these letters has been put on hold indefinitely. Accordingly, federal contractors and subcontractors who do not receive a CSAL notice will be unable to rest easy. An employer will no longer be able to focus its compliance attention only on those establishments or locations that received a CSAL letter. Now that federal contractors/ subcontractors will not be receiving advance notice of the establishments that may be subject to enforcement actions, it is critical that all covered establishments have a professionally-prepared Affirmative Action Plan, as well as complete and accurate applicant tracking/hiring records so that when a Notice of Desk Audit is received, the enormous amount of information that must be carefully prepared and produced can be timely submitted to the Agency.